Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bits & Morsels

Chefs at work at Wong.

by Erin Frankel

Simpson Wong
kept us waiting, but he has finally unveiled another adventurous solo debut with his Greenwich village opening of Wong. After opening Cafe Asean over 15 years ago, he picked up his 80-year-old mother in Malaysia to undergo an eating tour of Asia that would then inspire his eponymous new restaurant, Wong.

Wong is unique as it is the only Asian restaurant in New York City to highlight a local, seasonal approach to the Asian cuisine. The dishes on Simpson's innovative menu are inspiring and playful adaptations of classic Asian dishes from around the globe. Though the menu jumps from one Asian country to the next, there's a strong locavore undercurrent to all of the ingredients.
At night, Wong's floor to ceiling windows and candle-lit tables fashion a sexy, relaxed, and airy vibe.
The wine list. A bottle of Momokawa Junmai Ginjo sake.
I went straight for the appetizers in starting with the crunchy shrimp fritters, inspired from the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, which are made with a mixture of ham, crispy rice noodles, watermelon and sunflower sprouts (which give it a savory crunch). The scallops were a bit lighter on the palate and were complemented by a crispy tender duck tongue, cucumber, and a sweet jelly fish. The Montauk Squid, which was my favorite, was seasoned with a spicy bell pepper and basil sauce with fresh tomatoes and snake bean.

As for the entrees, the overall favorite was seemingly the Lobster Egg Foo Young, which playfully mimics a Chinese omelette, with its mixture of seasonal leeks, fresh tomato, dried crispy shrimp, and a salty egg yolk. It was a rich and crunchy cultural amalgamation. Complement the Foo Young with one of Wong's signature noodle dishes, like the light and flavorful Cha Ca La Wong, a nod to the chef's hometown. The dish comprises flat rice noodles to be mixed with the fried Hanoi-Style Hake with fresh tumeric dill seasoning, and dressed with a nuoc cham.
Crispy Rice Cakes for the table.
Shrimp Fritters.
Montauk Squid.
Vermicelli Noodles from the Cha Ca La Vong dish.
Hanoi-Style Hake from the Cha Ca La Vong dish.
Lobster Egg Foo Young.
Dessert offers a rich, sweet finale to a distinctly Asian meal. Try the Chocolate Snowball: a blackout cake, chocolate pudding, sweet Italian meringue, Sichuan cocoa, and an interesting accompaniment of pomegranate jelly. Or try the Duck a la Plum: roast duck ice cream, star anise poached plums, crispy tulle, and a 5-spice cookie.

Throughout your meal, you may see chef Wong walking briskly from the open kitchen (visible to every diner) to each table ensuring all of his guests are happy. They are, trust me.

Wong New York
7 Cornelia Street
Chocolate Snowball.
Duck a la Plum.